Sunday, November 20, 2005

Savoy...Still No Pay...



Ah, it's been months after I was supposed to be paid by Savoy magazine, and still nothing. About two months ago, I began calling the editor, the one Hermene Hartman, who also publishes a weekly Chicago rag called N'digo. Now, my dealings with Ms. Hartman have been comical to a certain extent. The first time I talked with her, she said that I would be paid by the end of the week. Two ends of the week passed and I decided to give her another call. She couldn't remember having said that. Okay, common mistake. So I gave her another month and then decided to find out when I would receive my check. She then gave me a long explanation about how she had been paying high postal rates and now she was hoping to get a rebate and THEN pay me. I said, okay.

Two months go by, and not a peep. So, I decide to call again. Now this time I think she mistook my name, she called me Mr. Harris a few times. Mr. Harris must be an important person because she was extremely apologetic, which was a change. Normally, she was extremely abrupt and acted like I was really taking a lot of her valuable time from her. But when I corrected her on my name, she went back to her abrupt self. Again, I received the postal excuse.

I got off the phone the last time and became curious. One of the photographers for the Savoy issue is pretty much world famous. I sent him an email and he said that he hadn't been paid and didn't think we'd see a dime from Savoy.

Now this is the point where most folk would say, hey, chalk it up to experience and don't think about it. Write it off as a tax loss and move on. And since I'm a daily advocate of black business (I've kept a weekly journal since I was 15, detailing when and where I spent my money, and how much went to a black business), I would normally do that. But here's the thing. Freelance writers get JACKED all of the time, and we're constantly told to just lump it. I don't think I'm going to do that this time.

As I noted before, Ms. Hartman also runs a weekly. I may send every last one of her advertisers a letter about how financially unstable her publication is. I'm also going to send a letter of protest to the National Association of Black Journalists, which I'm a member. I may also talk to the Chicago Sun-Times and Tribune about this situation. Lastly, I may take her to small claims court and then immediately go to her offices and enforce the judgement.

In plain terms, what Ms. Hartman is doing is stealing. She is promising to pay for work, and once the work was done and used, she is refusing to pay. That's sad. What do y'all think?

12 comments:

Sherri said...

My first thought is "How much $ are we talking about?" Is it worth your time? Is it a matter of principle only?

I HATE being taken advantage of. For example, I tried to buy a house this summer. Put in a bid, was accepted, pre-approved, the whole 9. The problem came at closing. The seller had a first and second... ended up being upside down. We found this out when we arrived at the closing and was told that she wasn't coming -- she didn't know she would owe another 8k. To make a long story short, after 6 weeks of delays and paying another $500 to extend the loan, we backed out and bought another house. The seller didn't want to return the escrow money. We ended up splitting the $1000 with her. Granted it was only $1000 but in my view, she messed up and I wanted to take her to court. The husband said his time was worth more than the hassle.

So.... think about it. The next time you are in Chicago, it would be worth a visit to her office to pick up the check in person. I'd try a face to face before sending any letter to advertisers... Wouldn't want YOU to get sued.;-)

Lawrence said...

I think the amount is enough to be worth my time. Let's say that I could use it to buy most of my Xmas gifts for this year.

I thought about going to Chicago, and I speak at Purdue in February, so I may make a visit. And before I send out any letter, be sure that I would get it vetted by my lawyer.

I feel you on the closing. We were on the other end (the seller) and the buyer's agent was straight incompetent. Our closing was delayed and them the buyer had the nerve to have an attitude. Thank GOD our agent was the bomb.

David Anaxagoras said...

I'd go after her with everything in my power. And I mean, not just go after the money -- go after HER. She is the kind of person who takes advantage of people whenever she can. Imagine how many other writers gave up and just wrote it off? I'd keep it legal and professional, but I say take her to school.

How about putting a "Savoy Payment XX Days Overdue" clock in your sidebar and main website?

Anonymous said...

Isn't Savoy like..broke or something? Didn't they just announce they'd be halting publication because they're broke? I understand your frustrations...but I don't have this feeling like Hermene is sitting on your check, giddy over not paying you or any other person who has conributed to the mag this year. Furthermore, I'm not so sure how impactful your letters will be now that everyone knows they're in the hole and have stopped production. Have you called her recently? Maybe now that they've announced being broke, she'll tell you the real reason behind why they won't pay up: they just don't have it right now.

Lawrence said...

Check out what I just posted and it confirms what you said. Now I wonder what assets she has to run her other paper though. There is SOME cash flow, so I still want some answers.

Anonymous said...

I think you should go directly to her office and ask for the payment in person. If that does not work, discuss with a lawyer your plans to write letters to advertisers and media. If you woun't get sued, go for it!
I read your article in Savoy and it was great. Savoy Magazine owes you and they should find the money or even go into their own pockets.

TechEd Lady said...

I think you should get some satisfaction. Check with your lawyer on how to pursue. Maybe a joint effort with other contributors could be a way to handle the situation. I would not suggest going to newspapers. Take the high road, not the low road.

Good luck.

Lawrence said...

I've done some more digging and found out that things at Savoy were really janktified. I think I'm going to file a small claims against them and see if I can get my money that way.

Anonymous said...

What a poor performance. The editor should know better you'd think. Not only that but one would imagine she would lead with a bit better demonstration.

Your account is already casting a poor shadow on her escapades.

TechEd Lady said...

I think small claims court is a good beginning.

afrocentric said...

jesus these people are alwasy hard to get , that's why frelance work is so difficult.

PS were you rollin your eyes when she said she did not even remember talking to you ?

David Anderson said...

Sue, sue, sue... And keep updating the blog, eventually the publicity will start to hurt.